ACYF Commissioner Introduces Framework to End Youth Homelessness

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness at its June 12 meeting considered and passed along for approval a proposed framework for ending youth homelessness by 2020. If approved, the framework will become part of Opening Doors, the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness.

Bryan Samuels, Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented the framework, which recommends that homeless youth be categorized into three groups according to their risk for long-term homelessness and other problems. Commissioner Samuels said that programs should be designed to serve each group using the approaches that work best for that population of youth.

“It’s not reasonable to assume that all kids who are runaway and homeless are the same,” he said.

The Commissioner said the most intensive programming should focus on the young people that research shows are usually homeless the longest: pregnant and parenting youth; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth; and young people involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

“The question is, can we turn the dime for these populations and refine the plan to address those most vulnerable to being chronically homeless?” Commissioner Samuels said.

The Commissioner also stressed the need for broader statistics and research on homeless youth to better tailor programming.  He said HHS and the Department of Housing and Urban Development are working to coordinate the federal systems that collect data from social service providers that serve the homeless.  He also recommended involving youth-serving organizations in HUD’s annual count of people experiencing homelessness.

“We need better data in order to have a better plan,” he said.

Commissioner Samuels said that HHS will also launch a federally funded demonstration project that will study how best to end homelessness for the most vulnerable homeless youth.

The new framework now passes to the individual Council members for clearance. The next USICH meeting will be in September.

For more information on the meeting, see this blog post on the USICH website or watch excerpts on YouTube: